Expectations and Survival

Posted on September 14, 2010


My body hurts bad. I’d steal a cane from someone if I saw them walking down the street. I’d have to catch them first but, that is another story.

This past weekend I won the Survival of the Shawangunks. ::I just paused and reread that line and it smiled:: If I had to explain the race in one word it’d be humbling. It was humbling because:

  • The course is difficult.
  • The transitions from swim to run induces cramping of the calves and hamstrings to a level that is unrelatable to a non-SOS-participant– even if they’ve done Ironman. Seriously.
  • It’s finish, a 0.7 mile sprint straight up after over 4 hours of racing is masochistic.

On a personal level it was humbling because:

  • I’ve never raced over 2 hours in a triathlon.
  • I haven’t been swimming or running much all year — not bragging here, just the facts.
  • Many people thought I had a good chance to win; a few people mentioned that I “was” going to win.

With those kind of expectations anything less than a win, to those people, might be a failure. The race has a long history — this year was the 25th year of the race — and I was introduced to it when I was high school when my coach explained about the “crazy” race. So, I guess it was then that the seed was planted. When I was at Marist, my other coach, told us about a faculty member that participated and has won it, Keith Struddler. And finally, when I moved to New Paltz to years ago, every one I have met and trained with has completed it or at least has heard about it.

“You doing the SOS?”

“No way!”

“Why not?”

“Those people are crazy!”

So, when I went to do it this year I knew I “could” win it. What I didn’t know is if I would since there are the difficulties of the course, the toughness and talent of the competitors, and many other factors. Alex Sheerwood, Keith Struddler, Chris Gebhardt, Mike Halstead, etc…I look up to these guys and know I’m racing them on their turf, not mine. It was going to be a long day.

  • Bike went well. Chris Gebhardt just miss the bike course record, a former winner, I knew it was going to hurt.
  • Lake Awosting was cool but, I made it to the end only to reach for my shoes and have my left hamstring cramp and pull so tight. I finally understand what everyone’s been talking about.
  • Castle point run I was running just to stay warm. Still chasing Chris and wondering how close everyone else was.
  • Minnewaska swim — try not to lose too much time to Chris. Calves cramped big time but, the roar of the crowd screaming my name made me get out and get moving (thanks Doug Thompson for the tip!)
  • Run to Mohonk — Caught Chris then ate it hard! Had to walk/run most of it. Everything hurt. Used Chocolate PowerGel to lube my chaffing arm pits…haha! Got to the last feed zone before Godzilla (massive climb 3 hours 45 min into the race) and told my self I’d walk until I hear cheers for the next guy. Well, that only last two minutes so it was going to be close! Ran the rest of the way and got to Lake Mohonk.
  • Mohonk swim — arms…tired…must…swim…go…go…go…don’t choke on the water…breathe…this is going…to … be close! Cramped up big time but, got out and ran halfway up the dirt path without my shoes on to get out of sight of Alex and Keith.
  • Came across the line and waited until I heard it was official since Keith Struddler started two minutes back.

Won by 29 seconds over that Marist Faculty member in the “crazy” race I heard about in high school.

Funny how things come  full circle.

Very appreciative of everyone’s support.


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